Review recommends Aurora College transform into a polytechnic university

Pam Coulter, Senior Communications Advisor at the Department of Education, Culture and Employment (left) and Caroline Cochrane, Minister of Education, Culture and Employment (right) at the media briefing for the Aurora College Foundational Review in May.
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The Aurora College Foundational Review report was released today.

An overarching recommendation was the transformation of the college into a Northern Canada Polytechnic University (NCPU) over the next six to eight years.

A NCPU would “combine elements of a Baccalaureate and Applied Studies Institution, a Polytechnic Institution and a Community College developed in association with the secondary school system in the NWT,” according to the review.

The review was initiated in March 2017 and in September the $412, 620 contract was awarded to MNP LLP – an accounting, tax and business consulting firm based in Calgary.

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The contractor worked with MLAs, Indigenous governments, college staff and students, northern employers, GNWT staff and others and delivered the review after a six-month examination of the college.

The firm examined five main areas of Aurora College; governance, operations, academic program processes, accountability and student recruitment and retention and recommended 10 steps toward establishing a NPCU and 67 recommendations of incremental changes.

It was also recommended that the main campus of NPCU be located in Yellowknife.

Currently, Aurora College  is headquartered in Forth Smith, and operates campuses in Yellowknife, Fort Smith and Inuvik.

Minister of Education, Culture and Employment Caroline Cochrane said the recommendation to move the headquarters is not about centralization but “developing centres of excellence.”

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“One of the critiques we had was that Aurora College tries to be everything for everyone and that’s evidenced in some of their campuses,” said minister Cochrane.

“So we’re looking at, what is the specialization within each community at their campuses and how do we grow on those. I want a destination post-secondary. I don’t want to just address the needs of the residents… I also want people to come here from across Canada,” the minister said.

Education Minister Cochrane said she was “ecstatic” about the vision laid out for the college in the review.

“This is a long time coming, and I’m really excited that this review actually has some recommendations, not only complaining about what we aren’t doing right, but where we need to move forward,” said minister Cochrane.

The minister declined to discuss the resignation of former college president Jane Arychuk, but emphasized the need for strong leadership.

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“The report does clearly state that the leader has to be very strong to be able to move this vision forward,” said Cochrane.

The government has yet to conduct a cost analysis of the recommendations to determine if they are feasible.

“Once we do a cost analysis, then we will be bringing it back to the cabinet and at that point we’ll be deciding how we move forward,” said minister Cochrane.

The GNWT will develop a response to each recommendation with feedback from the Standing Committee on Social Development.

This response is anticipated to be made public this fall.


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